Our Gift to you – Tips to Make the Most out of Couples Therapy
Thank you so much for subscribing to our newsletter. We hope you’ll find lots of helpful information about creating the kind of love you want in your relationship.
The Thrive Couple & Family Counseling Team
Many couples begin therapy wanting and even desperately needing to improve their relationship. The good news is, there is a LOT you can do to make the most out of Couples Therapy.
The counseling process works best when you are open. You can be open during couples therapy in a few ways.
First, try being open to your own inner experiences and share those with your therapist. We aren’t usually shy about showing feelings like anger and frustration. But, can you be open to your own softer feelings? Perhaps you feel some sadness, hurt or fears. Be open to taking some risks and share those in the session.
You can also be open to your partner. Try to understand their perspective. Be open to pausing your own typical reactions or responses such as arguing, defensiveness, or shutting down. If you feel impacted by what your partner shares, try to say how you are moved by their feelings.
Get to know your negative cycle
Most couple’s challenges are cyclical and repetitive in nature. This means that when we aren’t getting along, we tend to repeat patterns of our behavior towards each other.
Practice exploring your feelings, and seeing if you can detect your negative cycle coming up. Perhaps you could even name it out loud and let your partner know that you don’t want to get stuck in the same way it always does.
If you can be willing to see your side of the negative cycle (and don’t worry, your partner has one too), and to try something different, you can break that cycle more quickly.
Couples can also make quicker progress when each person is able to say how they see their part of the negative cycle.
For example, if you can acknowledge that you tend to nag and criticize when things aren’t feeling good and you know that hurts your partner, this will most likely soften them towards you.
If your partner can acknowledge that they shut down and withdraw from you and that this creates anxiety in you, that would probably feel pretty good to hear!
Another example is if your partner feels overwhelmed with a task, work stress or parenting. Instead of sharing with you that they feel overwhelmed and really need you, they get passive aggressive.
It helps a lot if your partner can say, “I understand that I get angry with you, but I’m really feeling scared and overwhelmed.”
In turn, perhaps you can be willing to name that you see yourself getting defensive but that deep down, you’re scared you might not be making them happy.
Work collaboratively with us
We want to know how Counseling is feeling to you, and if your goals are being met. We always invite you to let us know how the experience is feeling for you. We strive to provide you with the best possible couples counseling experience.
Also, we want you to feel like you can come to us with your concerns and have a good experience. We would always strive to be responsive to your feelings just like we want to help you be for each other.
Have realistic expectations – be compassionate and patient with yourselves!
What does the process of making lasting positive changes look like for couples in distress?
A fellow colleague describes the EFT couples therapy process like a meal at a restaurant. Here’s how that looks:
In the beginning, it’s like an appetizer. We will begin to talk about your goals and how you get stuck as a couple. You may feel a bit better and hopeful after the first few sessions. This is a good thing, and we want you to keep going to get to the root of things and make lasting changes.
The main course is when we start to really work on your negative cycle and begin to practice new ways of communicating.
We will help you understand how you are triggering one another and what is really going on for each of you underneath that negative pattern. We will then help you have an experience of being different with each other.
However, just know that the negative cycle will still be interfering with your closeness and you may default back to your old patterns as soon as you begin to feel triggered or distant from on another. This is normal.
We want you to have dessert with us!
Dessert is when you are at the point where you can do it yourselves at home and you’re having more and more vulnerable conversations.
This is the point at which couples say things like, “We never knew we could be this close.” “It feels like we have a new relationship with each other, and we feel really confident about how we can stay close and happy!”
Understand that no couple bats a thousand
In the beginning, it’s very normal for couples to have some setbacks and get stuck in their negative patterns again. Don’t get discouraged. Strive instead for whether you could recognize that you got stuck in a negative pattern.
Have your measuring stick of success be –
- “How quickly can we repair from that tough moment or disconnection?”
- “How did the conversation afterward go?”
- “Did we try to understand how we got stuck?”
- “Were we able to repair from the hurts that just happened?”
Dedicate Some Time
Set aside time to talk to each other about the relationship and what you’re learning. See if you can talk about it from this concept of the cycle. How do we get stuck? What triggers us?
See if you can practice talking about your more vulnerable feelings with each other. If that feels hard for you at home, that’s okay. Just notice what makes it hard and let your therapist know.
For example, you might realize that when your partner starts to talk about how they’re feeling lonely that it’s hard for you because it begins to feel like criticism.
Read if you’re a Reader
There are some great books that can help you make the most out of couples therapy with an EFT therapist. Choose one that fits your style or the recommendation of your therapist. Don’t worry, if reading’s not for you, we can walk you through these tools in therapy.
- Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
- Love Sense by Sue Johnson
- Emotionally Focused Therapy for Dummies by Brent Bradley and Jim Furrow
- An Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples by Veronica Kallos-Lilly and Jennifer Fitzgerald.
Check out our review of great relationship help books.
Have we met?
We would LOVE to get to know you if we don’t already. Helping couples is our passion! You can call us any time to get started at 303-513-8975, or schedule online using our easy system: